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(中/英文版)在傅树介医生新书《生活在欺瞒的年代》发布会上的致词 Speech at launch of PohSoo Kai, Living in a Time of Deception.

Hong-Lysa

孔莉莎博士在傅树介医生新书《生活在欺瞒的年代》发布会上的致词

翻译:伍德南

我极为荣幸能够跟傅树介医生一道,为书写其备忘录并肩工作。为此,我得感谢“8号功能”组织,特别是与我共同从事编纂工作的黄淑仪。淑仪所表现的热忱、真诚和关怀体谅,终于说服傅医生同意跟她配合,着手撰写回忆录。当傅医生决定要引用文献资料来佐证他对身历其境的年代和事件的分析、以他本人作为导向的一部新加坡战后历史时,淑仪便盛情邀约我参与编写工作。

傅医生将他的回忆录称为历史性的回忆录。

这是一部具有历史意义的回忆录,一本里程碑的著作。除了别的方面以外,这本书把1950年代和1960年代的新加坡历史以突破官版新加坡故事的框架的方式综合起来叙述,这要算是头一回。

我们能够见到《生活在欺瞒的年代》这一著作面世,确实难能可贵,非常幸运。

傅医生已80多岁了。像傅医生这般年纪的人,有几个能像他那样清晰地追忆过去六、七十年的事件和经历。事实上,对傅医生来说,我相信时间的流逝更加强他对过去事态的敏锐分析,因为他从未间断思考。

时间的流逝也让他有机会阅读英国殖民部近年才解密的文件,他得到历史学者覃炳鑫慷慨地跟他分享所挖掘的珍贵档案资料,其中有些是炳鑫通过英国的资讯自由法取得的档案文件。

最后,我们当然也很庆幸有这样一位傅医生,他充满干劲、尽心竭力于著述他的历史性的回忆录,继续关怀和激励他的同志们,让他们恢复信心,认识自己的价值。

若要问我,身为历史学者,什么最令我感到惊奇的,或说傅医生在其叙事中最令我出乎意外的是什么,那就是,即使是还在坐牢的时候,他就已经拿定主意要去英国档案局检索文件,以便查实冷藏行动背后的决策经过。因此,在1994年,正值机密文件的30年保密期届满时,傅医生便径直前往英国国家档案馆查阅资料。

他不是单独一人行事,还有好几位具备条件的同志也参与其事,他们也到英国档案馆去,其中一人就是已故的陈仁贵,可惜他没有来得及把脑中构思的历史写出来。但是,仁贵在学者和前政治犯之间奠定了相互尊重的关系,傅医生的著作就是这一关系的成果。傅医生在此书的编写过程中曾多次说到,“要是仁贵还在,我就可以跟他讨论此事”。

最后,只有傅医生一人踏上最后一步,引用他所阅读过的文献资料,完成回忆录的书写工作。

在本书的各篇章中,关于1950年代的叙事,从1954年11月人民行动党成立到1959年大选,通过最丰富的文献资料,让人们清楚地了解完全不同的过去。这一段历史是关于争取独立的运动,英国百般设法加以管控和阻挠。傅医生对事态的分析,彻底砸碎了人们过去对这一段历史的见解。

迄今为止,说首席部长林有福是英国政府的傀儡/走狗,指责他决定逮捕工会的反殖领导人和华校中学生领袖,包括行动党内的分子,这种主流叙事从未受到批驳。

因此,我们被告知,行动党政府在1959年击败林有福政府标志基本改变,从殖民主义傀儡的领导变成反殖民主义的领导。

傅医生的看法是,这两个政府是一脉相承的,而非截然不同的或更替的。身为反对党领袖,李光耀一方面鼓励和勾结林有福采取英国人所要求的行动,然后英国才同意在宪制上向前迈进,实现新加坡自治政府,而另一方面则“做样子”的谴责不经审讯地监禁行动党党员及其他人士。
林有福和英国人都非常知道,林有福在1959年的选举中无法获胜,因为他将因展开大逮捕而受到责难和唾弃。然而,林有福却一意孤行,这是因为他相信自己跟李光耀取得谅解,认为行动党跟林有福的党会结成某种形式的联盟,甚至是在1959年的选举后会组织联合政府,因而选民在行动党和林有福的的党之间,别无选择,他们会支持反殖的行动党,林有福的党会受到庇护,免遭惩罚。

结果,李光耀没有遵守对林有福的承诺。

大量地引用文献资料来佐证论述,对于不熟悉当时的历史、习惯于新加坡格式回忆录的读者们来说,读起来似乎会感觉沉重。我们是想要一本写得更加简明易读的书,没有过多的信息和细节,但这纯属奢望,并非本书所能办到。傅医生的著作,引用了丰富的文献资料进行分析论述;在新加坡,没有充分资料的论述是一种专利,只有那些权力在握者可以不必提供资料出处,任意书写,以为他们的叙事绝不会受到挑战。

与此不同,傅医生预计他的回忆录将会受到最严厉的检验和深究,以便揭发瑕疵、错误的论述、掩盖真相、把无根无据的说辞当成事实等等,这些都是任何希望受到严格对待的著作所必须面对的。我们希望,进行这类探讨深究,是为了充实知识,而不是遏制知识。

因此,诸多文件的引用,构成了本书的权威性。本书是傅医生为新加坡历史提供的导读,不以观点客观自居;历史所着重的不是客观性,而是追求事实真相,事实本身是不会说话的,需由历史学者进行分析。这就是傅医生力求做到的。

因此,他把自己的故事、其他同志们的故事,以及贯穿1950年代、60年代、70年代以及后续的年代,有关他那一代人所经历的历史,编织成书。讲到冷藏行动时,他向读者叙述政治犯的悲惨遭遇,不仅讲述经历煎熬、战胜各种肉体折磨和精神迫害的政治犯的事迹,也谈到那些经不起考验而妥协者。他以谅解和关怀的心态,描述他们做出的决定。他的一位同志也是前政治犯在读完本书后说,这是由一位对人类体现极大关爱和谅解的人所说出的事情。我认为这样说一点也不夸张。

在坐牢的17年期间,他一刻也不曾浮现以签署保安声明来换取释放的念头。是什么使他这样坚定不移?他是为了维护个人的诚信、廉直,以及坚持历史责任;被捕前他是社会主义阵线助理秘书长,辅佐担任秘书长的林清祥。因此,他完全有责任把自己生活在欺瞒的年代的经历,记录在书中。因遭遇残酷的环境,傅医生忍受了17年的牢狱煎熬,为的是写成此书。

傅医生是为谁而书写此书?

首先是为了他的同志们,那些还活在世的以及已经过世的。他要为他们在历史上有个定位,帮助他们谅解是什么影响他们的生活,并使生活变样。正如他所说,无人幸免迫害,他把自己包括在内。这是傅医生呈献给同辈人珍贵资产。

傅医生也给历史编纂学、历史学者和修读历史的学生献上一份礼物。这是说他为观察过去的事情开拓新视野,开启新途径,为我们提供新的可能性去追查真相。他挑战这样一种说法,认为新加坡的历史不能是,也不应当是个开放的学科。其实,历史必须是一门开放的学科。他的论述也肯定不是最后的;根本没有最后这回事,对于历史,是不会有什么最后论述的。

最后,《生活在欺瞒的年代》一书是傅树介医生的历史献礼,送给当今最重要的人:新加坡的年轻人。

我们殷切期望,想倾听他们要说的话。

Speech at launch of PohSoo Kai, Living in a Time of Deception. 13 February 2016
Dr. Hong Lysa  

 Hong-Lysa

I am extremely honoured to have been able to work with DrPoh on his memoir. For this I have to thank Function 8, in particular my co-editor Wong Souk Yee. Souk Yee, through her enthusiasm, sincerity and empathy managed to persuade DrPoh to work on his memoir with her. She then kindly allowed me to get involved when DrPoh decided that he wanted to use documentary materials to support his analysis of the times and events through which he lived, that his book would be a history of postwar Singapore history with him as the guide.

He calls it his historical memoir.

It is also a historic memoir, a landmark publication. Among other things, this is the first time that an account of Singapore’ history in the 1950s and 1960s is pieced together outside of the logic of the Singapore Story.

We are indeed very fortunate to have Living in a Time of Deception. The chances of us having DrPoh’s historical memoir are certainly very slim, if we think about it.

DrPoh is in his 80s. How many people of that age are able to recollect events and experiences in his life sixty or seventy years ago the way DrPoh has done. In fact for DrPoh I believe that the passage of time has sharpened his analysis of the past, as he has really never stopped thinking about it.

The passage of time has also meant that he has been able to read Colonial Office documents that have only been recently made available, and which historian Thum Ping Tjin has very kindle made available to him. Some of these documents PJ obtained using the Freedom of Information Act, UK.

Finally we are simply so fortunate to have DrPoh, who has maintained the stamina and dedication to produce his historical memoir and to continue to get his comrades to take heart, and regain their confidence and self-worth.

If I were asked what surprised me most as a historian, or what I found most unexpected in DrPoh’s account of his life, it was how he knew that he wanted to examine the UK archives to find out about the decision behind Operation Coldstore even when he was still in prison. DrPoh made his way to the National Archives, UK in 1994 when the documents relating to Operation Coldstore would be available with the expiry of the embargo after 30 years.

He is not alone in this. A number of his comrades who had the resources had also made their way to the UK Archives. Among them was the late Tan Jing Quee, who however did not live to write the history that was in his head. But Jing Quee fostered a relationship of mutual respect between academics and former political prisoners. DrPoh’s book is an outgrowth of that. DrPoh had said on a number of occasions when doing his book ‘if only Jing Quee was still around for me to discuss this with.’
In the end, DrPoh is the only person who has taken the final step to writing a book using the documentary materials he has read.

Of the sections in the book, the one which most clearly makes us understand the past differently, the best documented, is the 1950s, from the formation of the PAP in November 1954 to the 1959 general election. It was a period of the movement for independence which the UK was trying to manage and contain. DrPoh’s analysis shatters our understanding of what this period was.

The mainstream narrative which has not been critiqued so far, is that Lim Yew Hock the chief minister was a stooge/running dog of the British government for arresting the anti-colonial leaders of the labour unions, and the Chinese middle school student leaders, including those in the PAP.

Thus we have been told that the PAP government which came into power in 1959 when it defeated the Lim Yew Hock government marks a fundamental change, from a leadership which was a colonial stooge to one which was anti-colonial.
DrPoh’s historical memoir sees the two governments as continuity rather than a break or a change. As leader of the opposition, Lee Kuan Yew had encouraged and collaborated with Lim Yew Hock to take the actions which the British demanded before they would agree to further constitutional steps towards self-government for Singapore while he had his pro-forma (for show) speeches condemning the imprisonment of his party members among others, without trial.

Lim Yew Hock and the British knew well that Lim would not have a chance at the 1959 elections for he would have to bear to odium for making the mass arrests. Yet Lim went ahead to do this. This was because Lim was given the impression that he had an understanding with Lee Kuan Yew. The PAP and Lim’s party would enter into some form of an alliance, even a coalition in the 1959 election, so that voters would not have a choice between the PAP and Lim’s party, and Lim would be protected from being punished by the voters who would support the anti-colonial PAP.

Lee Kuan Yew did not keep his word given to Lim Yew Hock.
The copious use of documentary materials as evidence may make the book somewhat heavy-going for readers who are not familiar with the history of the period, and more used to the products of the memoir industry in Singapore. We wanted a book that is written more simply and clearly, without so much information and details, but this is a luxury that this book could not afford. To write without as much full documentation as he has done is a privilege in Singapore, where only those in positions of power can write without giving documentary sources. They write as if their accounts would never be challenged.

DrPoh on the other hand can expect that his memoir would be subject to the most intense checking and scrutiny, to look for slip-ups, faulty arguments, cover-ups, unsubstantiated assertions posing as facts—as any book which hopes to be taken seriously should. It is hoped that such scrutiny should be done in order to further knowledge rather than to impede it.

So documents give the book its authoritative voice. This book is DrPoh’s guide to Singapore history. It makes no pretense to be objective; history is not about objectivity, but it is about facts, facts do not speak for themselves; they are given meaning by the historian. This is what Dr Poh endeavours to do.

So he weaves the his story and those of his comrades, the story of the left wing of his generation through the history of the 1950s, 60s, 70s and beyond. Once Operation Coldstore comes in, he brings in what it means to be a political prisoner, not only those who lived through and triumphed over the physical and mental pressures they faced, but also those who were unable to withstand those pressures. He writes about the decisions that they made with understanding and compassion. One of his comrades, a former political prisoner who has read the book said that this is an account by a man of great kindness and understanding for humanity. I don’t think this is an exaggeration.

In his seventeen years in prison, not once did DrPoh thought of signing a security statement to seek release. What made him so steadfast? He wanted to preserve his credibility, his integrity, the historical responsibility he had as the Assistant Secretary General of the BarisanSosialis with Lim Chin Siong as the Secretary General. So that he could put on record how he was living in a time of deception. Given the circumstances that befell him, DrPoh withstood 17 years of being in prison, in order to write this book.

Who did DrPoh write for?

Firstly it is for his comrades, those present, and those who have passed on. He wanted to give them their place in history, help them understand what impacted their lives, and made it so different. As he said, no one of them escaped unscathed, and he included himself. This is DrPoh’s gift of a legacy to those of his generation.

He has also given us a gift of historiography, to historians and students of history. By this is meant that he has opened new vistas, new ways of seeing the past, new possibilities for us to explore. He has challenged the claim that the history of Singapore cannot and should not be an open-ended study. History HAS to be an open-ended study. His is certainly not the final word; there is no such thing, there cannot be the final word to history.

Finally, Living in a Time of Deception is DrPohSoo Kai’s gift of history to the most important people today: the younger people of Singapore.

We await with hope what they have to say.

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孔丽莎博士:阅读《张素兰:《改变的时代与(1963年2月2日)“冷藏行动”( Changing Times and Operation Coldstore )》的感触

function 8

编者按:退休律师张素兰小姐于2015年1月10日为纪念2012年参与了前左翼组成员每年农历初三举行的春茗聚餐会写了一篇回忆发表在FUNCTION 8网站上。
18历史学家孔丽莎博士阅读了文章后,写了自己读后感。全文如下:

Hi,素兰,

谢谢您发表了有关您参与了被我们经常成为‘老左’于每年农历初三举行的春茗聚会的回忆文章。

我在2007 年认识(已故前政治拘留者)陈仁贵时,我的第一次听到有关这个集会的信息。我与陈仁贵共事几年后,我问他,我是否可以出席这样的聚会,目的仅仅就是要看这个的到底是什么情况。陈仁贵告诉我, 这个聚会仅仅限于在1960年代被捕的政治拘留者,这是一个纯粹局限范围的聚会。

一年后,FUNCTIONG 8组织的成员在2011年突破了这个局限后,我在2012年受邀参与了这个聚会。这可能是我在2011年5月与陈仁贵、卢妙萍女士(前政治拘留者、社阵合洛区准立法议员)和Tan Kok Chiang共同编辑出版了有关1954年5月13日(“513”华校中学生反对强征兵役运动)历史事件的书籍后才受邀参与这个聚会。我因此成了第一个非政治拘留者或其家属成员参与这个聚会的人。

我记忆犹新。

您在撰写有关在现场拍摄照片是所说的那段话。正如我在早些时候告诉您一样,他们当中很多人并不大愿意在这样场合里被拍摄。当时,您告诉我,您将不会执意拍摄那些不愿在摄像机拍照的与会者。

我在2014年参与了这样聚会。我感到这次的聚会现场气氛相当轻松。《新加坡1963年的冷藏行动50周年》这本已经出版发行了。

冷藏行动中文版    新书:1963年冷藏箱的50周年

我被告知,比起往年,出席这个聚会的人数剧增。在这个聚会上,会议组织者呼吁那些自己的名字如尚未记录在这本书的附录名单里的政治拘留者,如果有意把自己名字加入这本的名单者请与卢妙萍女士联系。根据卢妙萍女士的反映,过后她陆续接到了许多通电话。她与这些要求把自己名字加入者见了面。这与有卢妙萍女士见面的政治拘留者不但要求把自己的名字加入,他们同时也要求把自己朋友的名字一并加入。

卢妙萍

2015年我未能出席这个春茗餐会。无论如何,我获悉聚餐会的气氛极其良好。在聚餐会上与会者不仅仅给自己拍照,同时, 把聚会现场情况简辑整理后发布到博客网上以及海外,包括了他们在马来西亚、泰国南部(即泰马边境前马共在《合艾协议》签署后在泰国建立的和平村)、香港和加拿大等地的朋友。

陈国防先生代表组织者在会上发言。他追溯了当年这些被错误拘留政治拘留者开始组织这个的聚会的目的。他说,当时他们是要肯定这些人为争取一个更加平等和民主的社会所做出的贡献。

陈国防于羊年春茗讲话

在2014年代的聚会参与者人数是20多桌。这是创记录了。到了2015年参与者增加到30桌。

前政治拘留者已经摆脱了恐惧心理的阴影并走出来了!他们为自己过去峥嵘岁月所作的一切感到无比骄傲!

2015年春茗聚餐会

在合唱小组带领下,卡拉OK替代了那些他们在过去年代爱唱的振奋人心的歌曲。FUNCTION 8的陈慧娴小姐清唱了一首粤语歌曲祝贺与会者来年更加美好。与会者也不会忘记2月21日是他们敬爱的领袖林福寿的生日。聚会为此进行了默哀。
我回忆起当年与林福寿医生在一块儿时的情景。

林福寿医生在一个场合里提醒我们。他有一次被邀请上台演讲,但是他拒绝了。他拒绝的原因是他不要把这样的聚会政治化,以免影响今后那些想要参与这样聚会的人。我理解林福寿医生所要表达意思以及当时他本身处于的敏感性的环境。

林福寿医生及其夫人每年都出席这个聚会。

毫无疑问的,林福寿医生对于农历初三的聚会上感到自豪不仅仅是拍摄一些照片,同时把它制成摄像录影广泛流传。

让咱们在今年聚会上见面吧!

丽莎。

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Below is a letter from our reader, Hong Lysa to the writer of “Changing Times and Operation Coldstore” which was published on 10 Jan 2016.

18

 

Hi Soh Lung

Thanks for your reflections on attending the annual lunch of those whom we loosely call the “Old Left” held on the third day of Lunar New Year in 2012. I had heard about this event from Tan Jing Quee after I first got to know him in 2007. After working with him for a couple of years I asked if I could attend, just to see what it was like. He said it was only for former political detainees of the 1960s, and was a strictly social event.

I was invited to attend in 2012, one year after Function 8 members made the breakthrough in 2011. It was most probably because of my working with Jing Quee, Loh Miao Ping, and Tan Kok Chiang on the May 13, 1954 publications. Jing Quee passed away soon after the launch of the books in May 2011. I would therefore be among the first who is not a former detainee or their family members to attend the lunch.

I recall very well, the photo-taking that you write about. I had said to you earlier that people may not be happy being photographed at the event. You replied that you would not take photos of anyone who was unhappy about it.
I attended the 2014 gathering. It was quite relaxed. The 50th Anniversary Operation Coldstore book had been launched. I was told that the number of people who turned up had increased significantly. There was an announcement that those whose names were not on the list of political prisoners published in the book should approach Loh Miao Ping if they wished to be included. I heard that subsequently, she did receive phone calls, and met up with many of them. They not only talked about themselves, but also of their friends.

I was unable to attend the 2015 luncheon. Nevertheless, I had a good sense of the atmosphere. Not only were those attending themselves taking photos, excerpts of the event were in a blog, and sent overseas, including to their comrades in Malaysia, South Thailand, Hong Kong and Canada.

Tan Kok Fang gave a speech on behalf of the organisers, stating that it was primarily a gathering of those who had been wrongfully imprisoned, for the purpose of confirming their cause of working towards a just and more equal and democratic society. They had about 20 plus tables in 2014, which was a record. The 2015 gathering had about 30 tables. Former political prisoners were stepping out of the shadows and into the light. They are proud of who they are, and what they did.

Karaoke singing was replaced by rousing songs they used to sing in the past, led by a choral group. Function 8 member Wai Han did an unaccompanied solo, performing a Cantonese song wishing everyone well. Those attending were also reminded that it was 21 February, the birthday of our beloved Dr Lim Hock Siew, and a minute silence was observed.

I recall in one of the few times that I was with Dr Lim, he mentioned to us about an occasion when he was asked to make a speech. He declined because he did not want to politicise the event, which might deter others from attending in future. I understood what he meant and appreciated his sensitivity to the situation. Dr Lim and his wife attended the lunch every year without fail.

Doubtless he would have been proud that the 3rd day of Chinese New Year lunch is not only captured in photos, but widely circulated in videos as well.
See you there this year.

Lysa

相关链接related link:

1.张素兰:《改变的时代与(1963年2月2日)“冷藏行动”》( Changing Times and Operation Coldstore )
https://wangruirong.wordpress.com/2016/01/10/
2.张素兰:《回忆2013年纪念冷藏行动50周年》
https://wangruirong.wordpress.com/2016/01/11/


4条评论

They do say the darnest things: What a to-do about Operation Coldstore他们真是那么天真地说:关于冷藏行动要咋办?

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(注:本篇文章刊登在孔莉莎博士个人博客网址:minimyna.wordpress.com。本篇文章中英文对照如有出入均以英文版最后解释权)

2014年9月29日

 

作者孔莉莎博士

真正 的颜色

Tan Tai Yong是新加坡国立大学南亚研究所的主任。 他目前是副教务长(学生生活)、管委议员说了一句非常贴心的话:—— ‘历史性意识是需要理智正确和真诚的’(摘自2014年9月15日海峡时报:《历史的许多深浅的灰色》(《‘History’s many shades of grey’》)

他是一位历史教授(是第三位获得这个成就的新加坡人),前国大历史系主管。《创造大马:去殖民化和合并的政治》(2008年)的作者。他也是《新加坡:700年历史:从早期皇朝到世界都市》(2009年)的三位作者之一。

教授的重点是于良好的历史将能够使新加坡公民欣赏历史的复杂性没和拒绝有屈服的宣传。

它的目的是与其关注过去的结论不如了解过去的欲望而不是在死板的断定黑白。这是有助于建立国家认同感和归属感。

讲完这句, 他的下一句 进入详细说明他所 认为是1950年的政治骚乱事件真实的报道:

人民行动党敢和左翼斗争能够‘骑上共产主义的老虎’而最终没有被吞食在肚子里。在政治角斗的情况下 一个政治集团 终于把另一个集团治对手打倒了。

这个‘骑上共产主义的老虎’的主要是用来比喻叙述殖民者和行动党的对事件的观点 它的结束不止于冷藏行动 而包括接下来的扣留行动。这是涉及‘共产主义’与‘非共产主义’之间的斗争——正如殖民地的文件把他们称呼为‘右翼’,虽然他们自己喜欢自称是‘温和派’。)

教授的学术严谨和正直的劝告是为历史学者指出了方向。那些在查阅殖民地记录看看实在到底有什么证据说明,左翼是颠覆分子,是涉及通过暴力和引进共产主义的阴谋来推翻政府。

在2014年5月份的教育部推荐历史参考书会上,教授更加清晰的说明自己的历史学家的看法。

陈教授……欢迎历史学者尝试撰写‘修正主义’或‘替代性’的历史观——这些历史学者要打破‘霸权叙述’新加坡的历史——假设这些努力能够导致对新加坡历史的新的的诠释和分析的话。‘但是,假设这一切努力是为了政治上的目的,那么,我们就必须更加谨慎看待这一类的历史。’

这些‘修正主义性’或‘替代性’ 的条件的历史是摘录那些有偏见不健全的历史资料的参考书籍。那是属于带有宣传性质的学术历史——那就是说,宣传代替于学术研究。这种是在展示‘政治意图’引伸出2个问题:这样的水准是否也适用于‘非修正’的历史学术研究;同时, 有没有‘政治意图’是否是一个 适当评估历史学术性的作品的条件。

不管是不是‘修正主义’,一份学术性的历史陈述不是要判断对历史学家的意图或者宣传。在专业历史学者的群体里评估他们的成员的工作室建立在全面的资源和收入的分析的探究复杂的水平上。这些评估工作是来自书评的形式和无数次的引用学术的出版物。假设‘政治意图’覆盖了学者学术研究,那么,专业历史学肯定会把他严肃地批评 即使他们是相同的政治派别。就如说,假设一位历史学者忽略了相关的资料 因为这资料否定他的论据或者‘政治意图’,那他的学术探究就是低级的。

出于同样的原因,学者接受‘替代性’和‘修正主义’的标志根本并不会被授予免除于严厉的学术水准。并不是说 写修正主义’的历史学家就是一个有特别的勇气或者批判性思想是例外的人。事实上, 修正主义’这类的名称是毫无意义的。只有高水平的历史写作和没有水平的历史写作这两者之间的历史作品。这也适用于‘修正主义’历史。历史性学者最大的贡献是强化‘历史的意识’,通过精湛的学术知识把他或她的的社会与过去相关的牵引出来。

不过 ‘替代性历史’或者’修正主义历史’是很适用由前政治拘留者所叙述撰写的。他们绝对否决行动党提出来有关他们领导的事件和冷藏行动的背景情况。他们的历史告诉了我们有关‘伪装反对殖民主义的右翼者’和‘真正的反对殖民主义的社会主义者’

这些作者公开声明他们的政治意图,不仅仅像《新加坡的故事:李光耀回忆录》那样。他们坚持自己是被剥夺了在1963年领导左翼参与大选而被集体逮捕下成了政治拘留者。这场逮捕入狱的行动导致了新加坡出现了政治恐惧感和行动党建立了一个牢不可破的实质上垄断了国会。他们是正面叙述‘新加坡的故事。但是,教授认为,他们是只是使‘新加坡的故事’之内容更加具有吸引人。’

显然主流媒体声称这段历史有着许多灰色的阴影,但是它已经是继续成为一个非重新组成的黑白历史的渠道。这个使用这样的编码撰写的历史已经是一个常见的例子。教授把‘投入了某一种政治意识和结果’。如果他们真是成功的话,将引导新加坡走向不同的道路’这个意见教授视为是‘真实的记录’。在新加坡没有人会假设演讲者的意思的一个‘不同的道路’,将可能会引导新加坡走向更好的方向。

总理在2014年的国庆群众大会的讲话的场合里也提到新加坡第一位总理的话:‘假设行动党在1963年9月的大选没有获胜,新加坡的历史或者已经改写了。冷藏行动是在他命令下而进行的。

越来越令人觉得 莫名其妙

国大李光耀公共政策实践研究所院长吉梭。 马布巴尼也对前政治拘留者和历史学家提出有关冷藏行动的问题提出了看法。宏大‘理想’(2014年4月12日)是在他一系列在海峡时报特约专栏撰写的。协助新加坡走向下一个50年——一个即将庆祝的新加坡建国50周年

这个宏大‘理想’是新加坡的成功是不可置疑的。除开不像美国人一样,那就是缺乏‘一套关于把我们的新加坡同胞的心系在一起’去加强新加坡精神。教授因此表明说,希望能有慈善家肯捐出50万元 作为一本最佳的新加坡历史作品的奖励。

这是令人好奇的是,教授声称已经有足够的资料和历史记录存在足于叙述新加坡怎样达到成功的历史了。

在今年3月份,新加坡反对党工人党领袖在国会询问国家档案有关采取删除机密文件法令,以便政府部门保管超过30年的文件能够让那些为了研究工作的公众人士查阅。

政府回应说,一个好的政府不需要为了透明化而透明化。

缺乏了必备的档案资料 历史学家根本不能够写出一本具有意义的历史书的。

更加令人好奇的是,教授事实上告诉全世界历史学家向他承认说,因为太过敏感了,他们必须谨慎撰写新加坡现代的历史。新加坡现代的历史到底有什么问题会敏感到这个程度?   他们到底害怕什么?

在2014年5月11日,《纽约时报》也揭露了类似的信息。在大学工作的历史学家宣布,已经能够改变了心态。其中一个说明‘禁区’限制……一旦被殖民主义者和过去的殖民地的体系严格的监视。但是,现在没有学生会问她会不会因为害怕被逮捕而不讨论非正统观点的课题。 历史学家在课堂里到底讨论了哪些历史课题 会引起学生们这么关心呢?如何为这样的问题提供答案?

上述的传达信息是在那些坏日子对历史学家所产生的恐惧心态一去不复返了。现在这些‘修正主义历史者’的书籍已经出版了 现在是应该写同有关成功和失败的历史的时候了。就像美国人公开了自己从残酷的黑奴压迫记录中解放出来和撰写了过去错误做法而净化了国家的灵魂。正如电影《 做了12年的奴隶》(12 years a Slave)也净化过去错误的做法国家的灵魂。

就像非洲人美国人的历史和民主权利运动一样,那些被压迫者撰写有关行动党进行的冷藏行动和其他的行动是属于辩护和与争取改变新加坡的事实情况。前政治拘留者撰写了真正的记录纠正了历史,从而要求政府接受承认这些历史事实。那就是显而易见的事实是政府确实是进行严重的政治暴力进程和他们说这个严重的政治暴力进程的受害者。对于这些历史事实,至今尚未有任何的严肃和有实质性的挑战的论点与政府进行挑战。即便是有,那也是间接的回应,造成了对作者的毁谤、或者是琐碎、或者是扭曲了他们的工作的。

要咋办?

新加坡重要的学术界确立了发现自己说了最天真的话说,在主流媒体,包括把大学描绘为思想意识控制学院至今还不是很久的事。那些完全隐藏着恶毒的意图已经被认为是最高命令扭曲和沾污了学院和国家的良好声誉。除非它看来要选择避开有关冷藏行动的处理态度采取了与其继续政治化不如避开这个事件的态度。

‘冷藏行动是基于国家的安全’是人民行动党心中的一种神话,也是它们一直背负的原来的罪恶。

不论是700年的历史或者50年的历史,要把新加坡的历史从旧的史实转为新的史实是不可能的——在不提及承认过去的错误的前提下,要把神的愤怒统治转为神的爱的统治是不可能的。这是一个极其困难实现的转变。这是在唤起全面的社会契约拒绝过去的历史。这必须是建立在一个信任和相互尊重的基础上。看来这样的日子尚未到来。

在对待有关冷藏行动的历史问题上,对于这些学者而言,要保留他们为学者的名誉 而尝试处理这个(历史)的转变 近乎是不可能的。

今天的局面,对于新加坡历史系的学生来说是一个极其精彩的。

尤其是那些在耶鲁——国大学院的学生吧!

They do say the darnest things: What a to-do about Operation Coldstore

(Originally published in minimyna@wordpress.com

September 29, 2014

 

Dr. Hong Lysa

True colours

‘Sound historical consciousness requires intellectual rigour and honesty’ — a very heartening statement by Tan Tai Yong, Nominated Member of Parliament, Vice-Provost (Student Life), director of the Institute of South Asian Studies, (‘History’s many shades of grey’, Straits Times 15 Sept 2014).

He is Professor, Department of History, National University of Singapore, (only the third local Singaporean to achieve this rank in the department’s history) [‘Professor’ is a very high rank in the university.The steps are: assistant professor, associate professor and Professor] of which he was a former Head; author of Creating Greater Malaysia: Decolonisation and the Politics of Merger (2008) and co-author of Singapore: A 700-year history: From Early Emporium to World City (2009).

The Professor underscores that good responsible history will enable Singapore citizens to appreciate complexity without succumbing to propaganda:

It should be motivated by the desire to understand rather than the intention to pass judgment. This can be constructive for building national identity and belonging.

He then promptly proceeds to spell out what he considers as correct insofar as it gives a factual account of the political events of the tumultuous 1950s:

The People’s Action Party took the left wing on and was able to ‘ride the communist tiger’ rather than end up in its stomach. In the political contest that ensued, one group eventually defeated the other.

The ‘riding the communist tiger’ imagery is just about the most hackneyed there is to describe the colonial and the PAP version of events, culminating in, but not stopping at Operation Coldstore. It is about the struggle between ‘the communists’ against ‘the non-communists’—(the ‘rightwing’ as the colonial documents call them, though they prefer to call themselves ‘the moderates’).

The Professor’s injunction on intellectual rigour and honesty as the hallmarks of historical consciousness is directed at historians who have examined the colonial office records for the evidence that the leftwing were subversives, involved in a plot to overthrow the elected government by force and bring in communist rule.

The Professor had spelled out more clearly his attitude to such historians at a Ministry of Education event to introduce the new history textbooks in May 2014:

Prof Tan … welcomed historians’ attempts at writing “revisionist” or “alternate” history – these historians have said they want to break the “hegemonic narrative” of Singapore’s history – if such efforts result in new interpretations and analysis. “But if it is done with political intent”, then I’d say, let’s be more cautious about those approaches.

The term ‘alternative’ or ‘revisionist’ history used in such a context is the code word for biased unsound history, academic history with a political agenda– in other words, propaganda rather than scholarship. This flagging of ‘political intent’ begs two questions: whether such standards apply to academic histories that are ‘non-revisionist’ as well; and the place of ‘political intent’ in assessing the worth of an academic history-writing.

‘Revisionist’ or otherwise, a scholarly presentation is not to be judged by its intention or agenda, if such were present. The community of professional historians evaluates the work of its members based on the level of sophistication of the inquiry, the thoroughness in sources used, and the depth of the analysis. Such evaluations take the form of book reviews, and the number of times the work has been cited in academic publications. If the ‘political intent’ overwhelms the scholarship, then even if one is of the same political persuasion, the assessment has to be that it is an inferior academic inquiry. An example of this is if the historian ignores pertinent documents that do not support his argument or perhaps ‘political intent’.

By the same token, adopting the ‘alternative’ or ‘revisionist’ label by academics does not confer exemption from the rigours of the discipline at all. It does not mean that one is particularly courageous or exceptionally critically-minded. In fact, the term is quite meaningless, for there is only sound history-writing or bad history-writing and the range in between, which applies to ‘revisionist’ history as well. The historian ultimately contributes most to shaping the ‘historical consciousness’, drawing relevance of the past to her or his society through excellence in scholarship.

‘Alternative’ or ‘revisionist history’ however, describes well what former political prisoners have written. They challenge the PAP Story with their account of the events leading to and the circumstance of Operation Coldstore. Their story tells of the struggle between the ‘pseudo-anticolonialist right-wing’ and the ‘genuine socialist anti-colonialists’.

These writers are openly dictated by their political intent, no more than The Singapore Story: The Memoirs of Lee Kuan Yew. They insist that they were made political prisoners in mass arrests which robbed the leftwing of its leadership in the September 1963 elections, and the waves of imprisonment that followed, leading to the politics of fear in Singapore and the unbroken virtual monopoly of parliament by the PAP. Theirs are head-on counter-narratives to The Singapore Story. Yet in the Professor’s reckoning, they merely ‘add texture to make the narrative more interesting’.

The mainstream media has been the conduit for what remains an unreconstituted black and white history, while claiming that it has many shades of grey. The code used in such writing is a familiar one. The Professor considers as ‘factual account’ the statement that ‘the leftwing was committed to a political ideology and outcome that, if they had come to pass, would have taken Singapore down a very different road.’ No one in Singapore would assume that the speaker might mean a ‘different road’ which could have led to an even better Singapore.

In his 2014 National Day Rally speech, the Prime Minister also had occasion to quote the first man to hold the office, whose government was responsible for Operation Coldstore: ‘Had the PAP lost in September 1963, the history of Singapore would have been different.’

Curiousier and curiouser

Kishore Mahbubani, Dean and Professor in the Practice of Public Policy of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy at the National University of Singapore, has also addressed the issue of the questions raised about Operation Coldstore by the former political detainees and by historians. Big ‘Idea number 3’ (12 April 2014) is in his series of essays penned at the invitation of the Straits Times, to help Singapore succeed in the next fifty years– a lead-up to Sg 50, celebrating fifty years of nationhood.

This Big Idea is that Singapore’s success has been incredible, except that unlike the Americans, there is an absence of ‘sets of stories that will bind our hearts together as fellow Singaporeans’ to strengthen the Singapore Spirit. The Professor hence evinced the hope that philanthropists would award a $500,000 prize for the best history book written on Singapore.

It is curious that The Professor has asserted that there are more than enough materials and historical records available to document historically Singapore’s narrative of success.

In March, the Opposition Workers Party leader had asked in Parliament for the National Archives to adopt the Declassification Act by which the documents generated by government ministries among others would be available to the public for research purposes after thirty years.

The government’s reply was that transparency for transparency’s sake does not necessarily make for good governance.

Without the availability of archival documents, the requisite history books cannot be written meaningfully.

It is even more curious that the Professor actually tells the world that historians confess to him that they are chary of writing post-Singapore history as it is too sensitive. Just what is the sensitivity over? What exactly do they fear?

A similar revelation was made in the New York Times (11 May 2014). Historians at the university announce that there has been a change of mindset. One states that ‘out of bounds’ limits …once were rigorously policed by colonial and post-colonial institutions, but no student now would ask her if she feared arrest for discussing heterodox views. What did the historian discuss in class that would elicit such concern by students? What was the reply given?

Whatever the case may be, the message is that those bad old days of being scared to write is over; it is time to celebrate openness. Now that the ‘revisionist’ books have been published, it is time for a history book that tells the story of successes and failures together, just as the Americans liberated itself from the atrocious record of slavery, and cleansed the national soul of past wrongdoings by writing about it openly. Movies like 12 years a Slave also help cleanse the national soul of past wrong-doings, says The Professor.

Like African American history and the civil rights movement, writing of Coldstore and other operations is part of a larger justification and fight for change to the status quo on the part of those who were suppressed. The former political detainees write to set the record straight, and thereby demand admission by the government that it did gross violence to the political process and to its victims. There has not been any serious and substantive challenge to their contention, only indirect responses that cast aspersions on the writers, or that trivialize or misrepresent their work.

What to do?

The leading lights of Singapore’s intellectual establishment found themselves saying the darnest things in the mainstream media, including painting the university as a thought-controlled institution till not so long ago. This would have been considered travesty of the highest order to besmirch the good name of the institution and the country, uttered only by those harbouring malevolent intent, except that it seems to be the way chosen to stave off having to deal with Operation Coldstore in an open manner, having to historicise the event rather than to continue to politicise it.

That Operation Coldstore was necessary for national security is at the very heart of the PAP myth; it is also the Party’s original sin.

It is not possible to change Singapore history, from the old testament to the new testament whether it is seen as 700 years or 50 years long–from the rule of the god of wrath to the god of love without first admitting to that sin. It is a difficult transition to make; it calls for an entirely new social compact which repudiates the old. It needs to be built on trust and mutual respect. But it seems that the day has not yet arrived.

The handlers of Operation Coldstore in history try to manage the transition, which seems nigh impossible for them to do as scholars.

It is a particularly exciting time to be a student of history in Singapore today.

Especially those in the Yale-NUS College, it would seem.